I’ve been thinking, recently, about the function and process of craft in my life. One of the reasons that I am so enamored of sewing, I think, is that it is a time-focused and location-specific action. Currently, my machine is living in my girlfriend’s living room, because wrangling paper patterns, yardage, and an iron has proven to be a bit too much with three curious creatures in limited floor space. For the moment, sewing means to dedicate an evening or weekend afternoon to her space while she practices guitar or works on a lecture for her classes. It is simple, lovely, and quiet, a soap bubble of space in my hectic life.
It also means that the last time I sewed was on Sunday and the next time I get a chance will be Thursday or Friday, at least, and I loathe that. I spend the days in between mentally sewing and planning new projects.
Knitting is a longer process, but a much more portable one that more deeply entwines itself into self into my daily life. There is always a project in my bag. I should always be knitting. I have brief pangs of guilt when I’m just sitting and not knitting. Fifteen stitches in between stirs of the pot while cooking dinner is fifteen stitches closer to completion. It appeals to my desire to make every waking moment a productive one.
In this entwinement, knitting also functions as a living time capsule for me. Significant events become knotted into the fabric I’m making. Even when they are difficult memories, this seems important and valuable.
In February 2008, I knit a pair of convertible mittens. It was, at the time, the most technically difficult project I’d undertaken, concurrent with one of the most difficult periods in my life. I was an undergrad at the time. My long-term relationship had turned violent and volatile, and its demise would last another year. My ex-partner’s father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he was living with us while recuperating from surgery. Heavy things. A knitter will understand the effect this was having on my life when I say that I was knitting 9 sts to the inch on US 3s.
I have worn these mittens every winter since, and though the Scottish Tweed 4-ply has worn like iron, they developed holes in the thumbs and on the palm. I was going to knit a new pair, but I haven’t managed to make the time, and a part of me just doesn’t want to.
I finally mended them, with hot pink contrasting yarn in a very visible way, another layer of memories carried in these hands.
This is about mittens and this is about craft and this is about me. It’s hard to separate those things.